9 June 2022


I'm a dingle, dangle scarecrow
With a flippy, floppy hat.
I can shake my hands like this,
I can shake my feet like that.

My mother, Doreen, died in September 2007. Apart from anything else she was a gifted craftswoman. It was as if she could turn her hand to anything - especially when it involved fabrics. In fact, when I was a lad she was often absent on weekday evenings teaching mixed crafts  in various locations in East Yorkshire. She called these weekly appointments "evening classes".

She specialised in lampshade making, glove making and basket weaving but she was also a prolific knitter and could knit jumpers swiftly while watching television. Can you imagine her knitting four identical red jumpers for her four sons? And then four navy blue jumpers too? She had so much energy.

Like me. mum was a night owl. As a teenager, many was the time I kept her company when the rest of the family was in bed. I can see her now with the sidelight above her chair as she beavered away at yet another project, sometimes with her electric sewing machine whirring in front of her.
Today, Shirley was up in our attic sorting out suitcases when she came across the happy scarecrow you can see in the pictures that accompany this blogpost. He is a little moth-eaten now but I remember Mum knitting him for our Frances in the early nineties. Can you see how the knitting has kind of burst open below his neck? Shirley says she is going to try to repair him.

Let's call him Godfrey - a name you don't hear very often these days. He went for a walk in our garden. Godfrey had a little rest close to Foxy Loxy's hiding place. Godfrey also went to pay homage to The Lord Buddha. 

It's nice that something of Mum remains, fifteen years after she left us. She was a force of nature and in her  own way, unforgettable. She would have been heartbroken to observe the situation my brother Simon is in now for though he caused her a lot of grief, she still loved him with all her heart.


  1. Anonymous12:19 am

    It must be nice to have such a tangible reminder of your mother such as Godfrey. I don't think I will have anything like that. My mother did now knit nor sew nor do anything crafty (and nor cook very well). Her only interest was her garden.

    1. Which is what you inherited, always having a live potplant on your balcony.

  2. That's so beautifully crafted and brought back many wonderful memories of your mother. What a gift!

  3. Who doesn't have a little loose stuffing these days? I think Godfrey looks pretty good. Quite a talent, your mother.

  4. Good memories of your Mom. My Mom was also a great knitter. I still have a sweater that she knitted for me when I was in the Arctic.

  5. The Repair Shop ladies would fix him right up!! That's a cute little guy that really shows your Mom's talent. I had 4 sons, too! (and 1 daughter!)
    Your Mom would be so pleased that you are reaching out to Simon during his last days, Neil.

  6. I have also spent many hours with my mum and the sewing machine, it's a lovely memory.
    Godfrey is just wonderful, he shows fantastic craftsmanship and lots of love.
    I follow Instagram accounts which specialise in mending and the things people do are incredible so I'm confident Godfrey will live on

  7. Your mum was very talented YP. We have patch work quilts made by my grandmother who died fifty years ago and they still keep us warm in winter.

  8. This was a touching tribute to your mother, Neil. I can picture the two of you now, quietly spending late evenings together when everyone else was in bed.
    Finding Godfrey in the attic must have been a nice surprise, and I am sure he can be repaired - it won't matter for him to look a little patchy, he is a scarecrow after all. I would like to see Frances' face when you hand him to her!

  9. I love Godfrey! I hope the jumper can be mended, I think darning would be best there. my MIL was a fast knitter too. After dinner the TV would go on and the knitting needles would start. In just a few hours there would be a baby's matinee jacket plus matching bonnet and booties. Or a complete jumper for one of her many (22) grandchildren.

  10. Shirley must mend it, so that little Phoebe can have it and then her children, of course I hope the moths don't get to it. But what a lovely heirloom.

  11. Godfrey is absolutely gorgeous. So well made. Any child would love him.
    Clever old Mum.

  12. Will Godfrey be passed on to Phoebe?
    Your comments bring back memories of my mother, who died in 2002 at the ripe old age of 93! Being able to turn their hand at anything seems to be a generation thing. My mother was the most exquisite embroideress, dressmaker, and in the days when it was fashionable was called on frequently to add smocking to a child's dress or romper suit. She enjoyed knitting too, and I can remember reading out the instructions of a very complicated Aran pattern, as she knitted a sweater. I only needed to read the instructions once and she had the pattern firmly fixed in her head.
    Sadly her talent has passed me by, but I'm shortly going to slap a coat of emulsion on the walls in the laundry room!

  13. What a lovely post! I still have my " utility" teddy bear and he is wearing a red trouser suit that my Mum knitted for him when his dress became shabby.....yes a sex change teddy! ( or should that be gender change? I don't really understand all these words that are bandied about these days!)

  14. What a beautiful tribute to your mother! I loved it. And I love that darling doll, too. Will it be passed to Phoebe?

  15. What a great find. I hope the repairs work well and I imagine Frances would love to pass Godfrey on to her daughter. It took some skill to make him, for sure!

  16. My mum was the same. She could knit anything. When I was growing up I thought all adult women could knit like her. I found out that was not the case. I still have the beautiful shawl she made for my son when we was born thirty eight years ago.

  17. Long time since I've heard that poem. The craftwork in these toys is astonishing; the hours they must take. Yesterday we bought a small bear for a friends daughter at a craft shop - it was hand made with crochet clothing - beautifully done. Cost us a tenner; I couldn't believe it was so cheap.


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